This last Tuesday at the Senior Honors Thesis Showcase reception on Berry Main Street, Dartmouth College Library presented its first Undergraduate Thesis Library Research Award. Eligibility for the award is open to any student who writes a senior thesis and is majoring in the humanities, social science, and interdisciplinary fields. This award is analogous to the Library Research Award in the Sciences which has been awarded at the Wetterhahn Symposium since 2015.
Winners of the award demonstrated exceptional ability to locate, select, evaluate, and synthesize library resources (including, but not limited to, printed resources, databases, collections, web resources, and all media) and to use them in the creation of a project. They also displayed evidence of significant personal learning and the development of a pattern of research and inquiry that shows the likelihood of persisting in the future.
This year, the winners of the Undergraduate Thesis Library Research Award were Emily Burack and Megan Ong, both members of the class of 2017.
Emily’s thesis was supervised by Jennifer Miller in the History department. Its goal is to understand why the Jewish Defense League (JDL) emerged in 1968 as a Jewish militant group in Brooklyn, New York. Her thesis contributes to the existing scholarship on Jewish extremism by examining the factors that combined to pave the way for the formation and success of the JDL from 1968 to 1972. Above all, the JDL believed that America in 1968 was a time of crisis for American Jews and they saw their group as filling a dire need in the American Jewish community: going at any length necessary to fight for Jewish survival. Emily’s thesis hopes to fill a current knowledge gap in scholarship by presenting a comprehensive look at the emergence and self-construction of the JDL. For her research, Emily found Dartmouth’s Summon search tool to be the most consistently helpful and dependable resource that she used, and she also relied heavily upon the library’s resource sharing programs such as DartDoc and BorrowDirect.
Megan’s thesis was supervised by Jeffrey Friedman in the Government department. Her research question was, “Can a more predictive model of terrorist attack rates during interstate war be formed if more specific factors are added? If so, which factors have the most effect?” Her thesis hypothesizes 26 potential risk factors, broken into categories describing the country itself, the opponent country, and the relationship between the two, and tests all hypotheses against a dataset of directed dyads at war from 1972 to 2008. Megan’s thesis has important implications for political scientists and policy makers. Not only does it provide a predictive model that can be used to better inform policy-makers’ decisions, it provides important insights into common assumptions that have often shaped political thinking. Megan utilized numerous electronic databases as well as a statistical analysis package that she learned to use by relying on free guides on the library websites and consultation with James Adams, the liaison librarian for the Government department.
We congratulate Emily and Megan for their excellent accomplishment and look forward to collaborating again with the Senior Honors Thesis Showcase to honor students who demonstrate exceptional research skills and a high level of intellectual inquiry with regard to their theses.